The difficulties of recovery during a lockdown………

Well here I am again, pondering the current state of affairs and how I am coping with it all, and as with most people at the moment no matter where you are on this Globe, there are good days and bad days, positives and disappointments. A main issue for me has certainly been missing out on the professional help through this now lengthy recovery, so not being able to get out there for hospital appointments, which alongside my Cardio Rehab had to be cancelled was difficult to handle to be honest. So missing out on tailored exercise and advice, dietician, psychologist etc…….. with unfortunately no sign of anything being rescheduled in the near future, fingers crossed  all measures continue to work and it can be sorted out soon.

 

Here in Ireland our current restrictions to try and contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus are due to end in the next couple of days, and all going to plan we will move into the next phase. That will be followed, assuming all goes well, by 5 x 3 week long phases reducing restrictions each time until the end of August, yep seems like a long time, but hopefully at that stage if all is ok we will be in a much better position. As we already knew live music will be still off the menu until at the very earliest late Sept/Oct, but we really can’t put a proper timescale on it at the moment. More Festivals either postponed or cancelled recently including Bloodstock (postponed to 2021 with an extra day – nice one Bloodstock), Summer Indoors 2020 (postponed to 2021, and Uprising which won’t happen for 2020 now, but will return bigger in 2021. There are still many events that have not yet, but will be cancelled, with bands, promoters etc waiting on the right time for an announcement, holding out hope that things will get back to normal sooner than expected or simply waiting until they have rescheduled the event until they announce the cancellation of the original version. On the positive side, more Tours/shows have been rescheduled for later in the year or for the same time next year.

 

Up until now, and even with that it had only become knowledge to me over the last couple of weeks, I have only known a couple of people that had actually tested positive for coronavirus, and they had all been lucky enough to have contracted a mild dose of it and are already recovered. But sadly that all changed when it really hit close to home and the difficulties other families have run into hit me square in the face. When an elderly member of your family falls ill with this virus alongside the natural worries about them you realise that the other problems associated with the lockdown are affecting you, that you can’t go and visit them, no matter how ill they may become you can only hope they are coherent enough for a video call, or to hear you on the telephone. Once someone tests positive and they will be isolated from the rest of the people in their facility, they may be confused, needing to be reminded about the virus each day should they be suffering from dementia, more than likely they are already suffering from underlying medical issues which will make it more difficult to overcome the effects of the virus, and as the Hospitals do not necessarily have the capacity to take in these patients an increased pressure and burden falls on the care facility they reside in. The message to #stayhome #staysafe is so important, accidentally passing the virus onto an elderly person in the community will have very similar effects, and yet everyday we still see many cases of people not following social distancing guidelines. This will only lead to one thing in the end more infections and a longer time period where we have to isolate/distance/miss out on the normal things in life we had up to this point taken for granted, won’t be taking anything for granted in future.

 

Of course we have in many ways been very lucky on this island that the hospitals were not over run, the very hard working staff and a larger community effort than we have probably seen in decades has helped without a doubt, the actions of Govt to help out employers and employees may be very costly, but in the end will save us so much as a nation. Since I started to write this I had a bit of a mental blockage and it’s ended up taking forever to finish, but hey ho, so many friends have been struggling aswell, mentally, deep dips and no massive highs to balance them out. More shows have bitten the dist this week, Iron Maiden in Belfast cancelled and Rammstien in the same City hopefully rescheduled, along with a few smaller shows. It’s a real shame the Maiden lineup was unreal, with Tempt, Airbourne, Alter Bridge and Maiden headlining, one hell of a lineup. but that’s it in a nutshell, try not to let the disappointments get to you too much, what the future holds, especially for music, how we will be able to socially distance and maintain any sort of a vibe, hold onto an atmosphere, and what it will look and feel like, it’s a mystery. Have been reading a number of articles from various people in the industry and what I’ve garnered most is exactly that fact nobody knows what is going to happen yet.

Bloodstock2021

For me, well, I’m back working a full week, from home, trying to push myself a bit harder physically and lee[ the sanity there is some semblance of tact. None of that is easy, strangely enough, the things I thought would be easiest to control haven’t worked out that way, the diet has been a lot more back on track as my mam recovers slowly, Working hard on my walking, and also stepped things up a bit. Last week managed to hit 8.5km without keeling over, so then got inspired this week by a good friend that is walking 10km+ every day in May to raise some much needed funds for a very good cause, so this week I managed to his 10km for the first time Monday, maintained it on Tuesday and still hit my 10,000 steps today, but not quite the 10km, still it’s a bit increase in workload, so ensuring I’m not pushing too hard, if I need to I’ll back off again for a day and then try and hit back to the higher level again, it’s certainly been difficult at times, trying not to get frustrated with people wandering around the streets ignoring guidelines, or groups of kids that just don’t know or care, but I’ll stick to my back roads, keep doing my loops and looks some weight at the same time, only shed 10 to 11 kg’s so far, but that’s definitely a good start 😉

IMG_8169-cover

So lets keep doing what we need to do, try and keep our minds from going off the reservation, if you are in the situation where you are not or cannot work, get out and get your exercise in the fresh air, it’s a life saver. Sleep certainly hasn’t been good for most people and I’m no different, staying up later and getting up early for work, broken sleep, it’s tiring, but thankfully to date no sign of anything being triggered with my epilepsy, also glad I’ve not really noticed any side affects yet from my heart medications. Video calls with friends, colleagues, family has been something that has become a new social life for many, be it quiz\es or dinner parties or social drinks, it’s just another thing to help people get through it. Have been looking back through old sets of photos checking out Landscapes from visits to the West Coast, I’ve said it many times, but the Wild Atlantic Way on the West Coast of Ireland is simply stunning, and when things eventually get back to some form of normal get yourself out there to see some of the beautiful scenery around your own country, we so often take it all for granted.

#staysafe #stayhome and look after yourselves.

The ongoing recovery update…

Well here we are having rolled into March, this week will mark 2 months since my heart attack and although I’m definitely seeing progress it is still frustratingly slow for me. As with pretty much all recoveries from surgery, but certainly from a major surgery there are good days and bad days in the months that follow. For me the operation itself was the easy bit, which wasn’t how I thought things would be, I knew I needed it so automatically got my head adjusted and of course was slightly nervous, but was eager to get through it. If may have been nearly 3 hours and a lot more difficult than expected for the surgeons, but 3 days after a heart attack I had my new Stents installed and was looking forward to the road to recovery. (to give you some idea of the relative size of a Stent there’s a cover photo above and another below).

Stent-Dr-Murtaza

Two months on and having been at home for almost the whole time since and there has been some elements of going stir crazy, although I have returned to a very limited amount of work action, a lot of days are filled with eating, going out for walks or to the shops and trying to plan various different Hospital visits or to my mam, it’s all go 😉

With the Nursing Home now on lockdown one of my walking routes is currently out of action, but it’s very important that elderly people are exposed as little as possible to the possible threat of virus infection, so it is what it is, phone calls to check things for the moment. In the meantime have gotten some of the administrative stuff progressed a little so that takes a little off my mind, I think it wouldn’t have been possible to sort from now for a couple of months.

ScreenHunter 75

Two weeks ago I had a cardio assessment in the Hospital for my Rehab Classes, all went very well and my classes have now been scheduled, so that’s good, but with the many issues that the spread of Coronavirus is now causing there is a chance that schedule may be thrown into disarray, time will tell, For now I am really hoping to get them started, I’ve gotten my walking up to around 5km a day, which is a good start, but after having a very bad week or so diet wise (well there has definitely been a valley of depression over the whole covid-19 issue, it’s one thing to be isolated because of limited physical activity, quite another to be made stay home due to an increasingly rapidly spreading virus that is more dangerous to me as someone with an underlying condition, don’t get me wrong it doesn’t scare me, but I’m sensible enough to not put myself at further risk for no reason. But this whole situation certainly has it’s effects on mental health, and that can certainly contribute to throwing a well maintained diet out the window for a short period of time, so hopefully back on track now, touch wood, and if we can get the Rehab going it will definitely help.

Was really nice to get out and about yesterday with the camera for the first time this year, just a walk in the grounds of Newbridge House and Farm with the family and a few photos of the scenery and Deer. Luckily have been able to get out for walks once or twice a day most days up till now, have avoided being out in the storms, but my estate is large enough to get out on different routes to avoid monotony and still get me to the 5km+ mark. It’s a very quiet St.Patricks Day today here in Dublin, of course no Parades going on, hundreds of thousands of people in close proximity would be stupid and a breathing ground for new infections, more and more pubs closed and most people that I’m seeing adopting the advice to avoid unnecessary contact etc……..  so was definitely nice to have a wander around some nice grounds yesterday.

The number of people there were understandably smaller than usual, but is as it should be, and aside from passing people on the path or around the park contact is very much at a minimum, none of which of course is bothering the Deer at all, they are happily munching away on grass and relaxing.

 

Sleep patterns have sadly gone right out the window alongside the poor diet over the last while, maybe it’s a little worry about everything in the back of my mind, but no issues with the Epilepsy, no fits, and continue to take medication as I always have, will just keep an eye on it and rest when I need to, being down does not help it, but keeping the brain ticking over steadies me, listening to some new music has lifted things slightly, purchasing some new items and listening to albums I’m due to review on my walks  is definitely the solution. My thoughts go out to anyone in a bad place already that now has to self isolate, if your deep in a hole just reach out to a friend or organisation and have a chat, it will help. Right now it’s looking like most countries in Europe are going to lock down for an unknown period so hang in there.folks, like any other downturn we can all get through this. How the Govt’s go about helping people who are either no longer getting a wage or are in other financial difficulties as a direct result of the Virus has yet to be seen, but hopefully common sense can be impressed upon the Banks so that stress can be lifted.

 

All live Music events in Ireland have been cancelled or postponed for the significant future, right now they are cancelling/postponing events through the end of April and a few in May/June, well you have to understand that Tours span Europe and also span months so anything starting in April and running into May will go, and right now I would personally be surprised if the big gigs planned for June and some of the larger Festivals didn’t get pulled in the coming weeks. I missed out on HRH AOR last week and with their other Fests Hammerfest and HRH Prog IX having also now been cancelled I’d expect HRH Blues to go very soon, it’s just not possible to get artists around the Globe at the moment, nevermind insurance etc…….   was really cool to see Code Orange going ahead with their Album Release the other night in an empty venue but being Livestreamed to fans all over the globe, it will be the way of the future for the moment I think and at least bands and venues can probably recoup some costs from it, remember to go support your local favourite bands, if they can’t play and have had to cancel shows/tours they are losing money and may have t-shirts that were for a Tour that you can go pick up from their website or a CD etc…. and help them survive, same with promoters, if a show is cancelled, don’t just look for a refund, wait for the rescheduled date and if you can’t make it get a refund and buy a ticket for a show later in the year, we all have to help out in these difficult times. So my return to Photographing gigs will quite possibly be pushed back until the 2nd half of 2020, hopefully things will improve quicker than that and some local gigs get back on the calendar quicker but we will have to wait and see, the longer stuff is off the longer it will take to restart.

Most importantly, continue to follow medical advice, thoroughly wash your hands for 20 seconds, use hand sanitiser where appropriate (mostly entering shops), but get shopping delivered where possible, don’t go sit in a pub all night, don’t sit beside someonre on a bus or train when there are spare seats, or avoid using at all if possible, the reality is even looking at the UK they are hoping to keep the number of deaths under 20,000 – right now there are 56, just think that if they expect the peak in a month or two so at some point there the Death rate would be well over 1000 per week, some very difficult times ahead, no matter where you live, so stay safe, do what you are asked from a safety perspective and we can all get back to normal at some point and start doing the things we love again – I’m going to get back to writing reviews (yeah I know I say that on every update, but I’m working on them).

Love and light to all    DevilsHorns DevilsHorns

Never take your Health for granted……..

Well it’s been a somewhat interesting week to say the least. Have spoken before about looking after an elderly relative and the stress and pressure that comes along side that, and how over time it just continues to build, and don’t get me wrong it is very important to keep elderly people living at home for as long as possible, but at times you take on too much, or you just can’t provide the care and attention they need.  So last Wednesday ended up in the hospital, which was crazily overcrowded, and then looking after them at home through the rest of the week.

 

Arriving home from my bit of care work on Friday evening, Id had a bit of discomfort in my chest all day, but put it down to indigestion, typical man, just ignore it and it will go away, but then a sharp pain in my chest for around 60 seconds and I did the sensible thing, called an ambulance and after being checked out went to Hospital to get Blood Tests and a Doctor once over. After 10 hours of waiting in A&E finally got in to see someone and within about 15 minutes I was being checked in, probable Heart Attack and the fun began.

 

As always the care in the Hospital was second to none, how they manage to do so in those conditions is beyond me, the hours are too long, the facilities inadequate for the number of patients, and they all deserve a bloody medal, the Govt in Ireland really should be ashamed of themselves continuing for so many years not addressing problems every man on the street can see are obvious. Anyway, a weekend of tests and then Monday a nearly 3hr operation to install some Stents into my heart and get things working better again. How quickly things can change. The blockages/narrowing were in an awkward place which definitely didn’t help, and how weird it is to be awake while it’s all heppening. We all take so much for granted, and it literally takes 1 minute for everything to change. Home now and resting, but so many changes have to be made, and right now the future is still very uncertain. Changes of Diet and Exercise are a given, but there’s so much else on top of it, capacity to help care for someone else, work and just how much of what I do now can I continue to do, then there is my beloved music, don’t know if I can get back to Photography or if it will have to be something I give up, But most importantly will be staying around for my family, my little guy will need me around for a long time yet, even if I can’t lift him up at the moment, which is really hurting me.

 

So some advice, take care of yoursef before it is forced upon you, we only get one shot at this thing so don’t play around with it. Never ignore the warning signs and if you don’t feel right and have a pain/discomfort you’ve never experienced before in your chest – go get it checked out before something happens. And try to always have 300mg of Asprin around handy in your home or on you for chewing if something happens, if could just be the difference. For me I’m going from one tablet for my Epilepsy to 6 tablets a day, big change and always a worry some medication won’t play well with others.

 

For now, rest and recouperation, cancelled gigs for the next while and no overextending. We can all do this, but will take more discipline in future and perhaps not trying to be everything to everyone. Take care of yourselves……………..

I Get Knocked Down……. and not as easy to get up…

Lately I have been starting to wonder is your mind much like being a boxer, when you are younger you get knocked down and even if it’s something that floors you for a while, you step right back up again and even if your head has been scrambled you just don’t let it phase you much. But perhaps every time you take a mental blow it cuts down your strength and resolve a little, and just maybe as you get older and keep taking mental blows you windup like a boxer that has carried on their career that bit too long, and every time you get hit you are slower to get back up and much slower to bounce back.

 

Right now that’s exactly how I feel, and it’s affecting other parts of life, sleeping, concentration, mood, pretty much everything. It’s easy enough these days to attribute everything to stress, being busy in all aspects of life, and that leading to depression, and sadly it’s pretty much right every time, but depression tends to come in bouts when it passes you can usually fight your way back out of the hole you are stuck in, perhaps if one bout runs into another and you are not sleeping and overtired that ability disappears. But at the end of the day you still need to keep fighting it, keep trying to climb back out of that hole.

 

This time around it definitely feels like a truck ran right over me, stopped and then reversed over me again. Even with this Blog entry I started writing it a few weeks ago and then the words ground to a halt, so back to square one again. That has certainly had a massive impact on trying to get any review work completed, on top of many other things that have slowed down. But at least this week attempting to write has lifted me a little, and getting out to a couple of shows, which were both amazing by the way, had brought some normality back to life. The image at the top of the page is just a personal memory from the show, wasn’t shooting it for anyone, but if you get an opportunity get out and see Sons Of Apollo, having so many super talented musicians on stage at one time is very rare, but they all put in 100% effort and energy into their show, true professionals.

 

Attempting to ease some of the external pressures has proven a little more difficult than expected, but any piece of progress helps and besides these things always seem to take time to get sorted out now. So we push forwards as much as we can.

At least I managed to submit a Review this week, the excellent Myles Kennedy, you can read it now over on the Overdrive website. Great photos by my good friend Steve at Down The Barrel Photography.

Myles Kennedy Review – Dublin 05-07-2018

 

What’s next ?

keeep fighting, try and get the head back in some semblance of working order. On the music/photography side, I’m working on a couple of Album Reviews and have the new Roack/Blues/Metal Festival to come in a couple of weeks, Rally Of The Lough in Co. Meath Ireland, with acts like Pat McManus Band, Phil Campbell And The Bastards, DARE, Coroner, Samarkind and many more, really looking forward to shooting this one.

ROLLFestival-Poster-July2018

 

Keeping busy, but not too busy, and organising shows and stuff for the rest of the year, changes in circumstances mean only a couple of nights a weeks are at all possible now, but that’s a lot better than nothing. Roll with the punches, and hopefully get back up a little quicker next time \m/ \m/

Off to the tropical Sheffield and Nottingham for sure, and maybe squeeze in one more, and some stuff next year already beginning to fill in.

When deep in the hole I managed to have a couple of chats with good friends, not deep conversations or anything, but sometimes a chat will be enough to help you crawl out, so if you are down, just don’t ever forget to talk to friends, they will be there for you, so say hello and chew the fat.

.

Home from the Holidays :-(

 

It’s just one of those things in life, a bitter sweet day for most, your holiday (vacation) is over on you return home, you are leaving what has hopefully been a really great experience with family or friends and returning to the reality of life, while at the same time you quite often look forward to getting back to your own home, your own bed and more familiar surroundings for the little one. It’s a little bit of a struggle both ways…..we started the week with a pretty nice view and it was just a taste of what was to come, in a beautiful Apartment with lovely hosts, would definitely stay again.

IMG_3360
Bunlin Studio Apartment – Golan, Millford, Co. Donegal

 

For us, it’s been a really terrific week away, we have no covered two thirds of the Wild Atlantic Way around the Donegal area and just have one section to work out way though, and we’ve already started planning that, will then look at where else we can hit on the other sections around the coastline, there are so many places to check out it’s great. This time around we took some time up around the Fanad Peninsula across to Dunfnaghy and Falcarragh, which turned out to be a great base to travel around from, small town but lovely and quiet, only 16km to the stunning Glenveagh National Park and the same in a different direction to the very interesting Ards Forrest Park which contains parkland and beach in one location.

IMG_3474
Ards Forrest Park – Co. Donegal
IMG_3497
Bloody Foreland – Co. Donegal

There are just so many stunning viewing points around the hills and mountains in the areas, you are always a short drive away from one, so just take a look around and pick a route, some of the viewing points are a little more difficult to get to than others, the road up to and down from Horn Head for example can be a little hairy, but the view’s are hard to beat, it can get a little windy up there, so just don’t take any unnecessary risks taking photos or looking around. Or indeed Fanad Head Lighthouse which is another of the Great Irish Lighthouses around our rugged coastline.

_MG_4829
Fanad Head Lighthouse – Co. Donegal

 

_MG_5137
Horn Head – Co. Donegal

There are also a number of places to see animals of all shapes and sizes, parks, farms, a mini-zoo, lots of options. On this trip we discovered Oakfield Park in Raphoe a short distance outside of Letterkenny, have to say there’s still pieces of it being developed and added to, but it’s a really beautiful spot, with a lovely Train Ride that goes all the way around the lower part of the property.

_MG_5253
The Longsleeper at Oakfield Park

We always take in a trip to Tropical World in Letterkenny when in the area, the little guy takes in more as we go around each time we go, so that’s pretty cool and I always love a walk around the Butterfly Garden which is much busy with Butterflies this year. Staying so near to Glenveagh it would have been a crime not to get up there and sample the beauty of the area, the shot at the top of the page is from there, and it was another well spent day, the little guy even high fived the shuttle bus driver when we got back to the Visitor Center, not something he would have done had he not been in good form after a day of great views, lots of birdies (and a scone in the cafe of course).

_MG_4942
Common Chaffinch – Glenveagh National Park

 

_MG_4977
Great Mormon at Tropical World’s Butterfly Garden.

 

:Honestly these have been just a few of the many memories we created this week in the North West of Ireland, weather wise, bit of a mixed bag, but only really had to change our plans one day when we couldn’t bring the wee man out in howling wind and rain, but we were very lucky to have a few days of sun early in the season, lots more to come when I get a bit of time to go through the photos. On the downward side didn’t manage to get very much done this week, hoped to get some writing finished off, all that despite waking each morning between 5:30 and 6:15 – hard to force yourself when you are getting overtired, maybe that’s what this wise old owl would say 😉

_MG_5105
Snowy Owl at Tropical World in Letterkenny